(Jessica Hausner; France; 2009)
A wonderfully composed and delicatedly nuanced film which reveals not so much the miracles of faith but the mysteries of the inner workings of peoples relationship to themselves and others. The pilgrimage to Lourdes that our protagonist takes is not one based on faith, but almost as a routine expression of hope. It is this idea of the routine and ritual, of going through the motions of faith and belief in the expectation that a miracle may occur, that is explicated throughout the course of the film. Hausner achieves this through subtle and poised means. Groups of minor characters comment upon the goings-on of Lourdes, and reveal their hope, desire and skepticism within the same breath. Lourdes is not a place to believe but a place to desire, with people either gazing longingly or with envy at others, or wishing that a miracle occur to them, almost as if they are wishing for a lottery win.
Hausner's eye for cinematic detail is firm, distinct, and painterly. The camera, often static, frames characters within environs composed of simple clean straight lines, as if capturing them within the geometry of their hopes. The scenes of ceremonies at Lourdes are stunning, with high-angle shots of hundreds of candles held by pilgrims moving towards the centre representing the magnitude of the fragility of belief.